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Installing Windows Vista issue with serial not being accepted

I have an older Compaq tower my Dad used but the drive failed so it sat in a closet for a few years. After he passed I ran into it again and decided to fix it for my mom to use. It has the license sticker on it for windows vista home premium oemact with serial number. I looked everywhere but i never found any restore cds (which is ironic because he like me generally made his restore discs), but I did find a cdr marked vista home premium iso.

I figured why not try this, so I put a new drive in the machine, stuck that vista disc in, and it gave me an option of which version of vista to load i chose home premium, it loaded up great went to register windows but it keeps saying my serial number isn't valid.

I retyped it a few times slow and making sure I got each character right but no luck, I guess it could be this cdr isn't the right vista home premium? I contacted hp about it and haven't heard a word back other than them telling me my serial number no longer is under warranty and to go to the hp help community forums, so I wonder if that is their answer (not answering me).

Are there different versions of vista home premium? I noticed the sticker on the machine says OEMact is there somewhere i can find an iso image of Vista HP OEMact?


Vista Guru
Gold Member
If I remember rightly some OEM systems that came with Windows preinstalled had a sticker on the machine that was useless. There was another sticker inside the owner's manual with the correct license code.

If you cannot find any way to get a valid copy of Windows you may want to try a small Linux that is easy to install and use. One I tried was Puppy Linux. Especially if you mainly to web browsing and use email that is cloud based such as Outlook, the fact that it is Linux should not be a big deal. Many of the new distros like Puppy and Mint try to design the user interface to make it easy for those coming from Windows. And it is free. I think Puppy is only a few hundred MB download.

Puppy Linux Community Home - Getting Started

Main Page - Linux Mint
You should be entering a 25-character product key in order to activate Windows.
I don't know what you mean when you say you're entering a "serial number" in order to "register" Windows.
I think it's important to be precise with these terms so that we're talking about the same thing.
After the install, I wouldn't be in a hurry to activate. The system will attempt to activate automatically after a few (three, I think) days.
If that attempt is unsuccessful, you'll get a message to "activate Windows", at which time you can enter your product key.

If the install from your CD resulted in a working system, that's great.
Your HP OEM "Vista Home Premium" is a factory customized version which contains the proper drivers and additional software. The backup CD you have is probably this version. Another source may be in the form of a factory restore partition on your hard drive, which hopefully you didn't delete with your recent installation. I doubt HP would still be offering a disc for your computer.
Generally speaking, there is only one Vista Home Premium version; the OEM factory versions are simply customizations.